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Soccer mirrors politics in polarized Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's promotion of a soccer team that subscribes to conservative Islamic values has more so polarized fans than won them over.
Soccer Football - Turkish Super League - Galatasaray vs Basaksehir - Turk Telekom Arena, Istanbul, Turkey - April 15, 2018   General view of Galatasaray players celebrating in front of the fans at the end of the match    REUTERS/Murad Sezer - RC1598DDF3E0

For much of the 15-plus years that he has run the country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has largely had his way as he tightened his grip on power. So when a newish soccer team that he is overtly promoting lost 2-0 to Galatasaray — one of the country’s big three teams — in a Turkish Super League match on Sunday, his opponents reacted with glee.

Meral Aksener, a female right-wing nationalist contender for the presidency, gloated: “Galatasaray 2-0 Recep Tayyip Erdogan” in a tweet that had drawn 8,000 comments, 42,000 retweets and 117,000 likes at last count. Hasan Cemal, a prominent opposition columnist and die-hard Galatasaray fan, tweeted: “This victory is in a different league.” An angry Erdogan supporter riposted, “Recep Tayyip Erdogan will score the real goal in the 2019 [presidential] election.”

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